Justin Timberlake is facing calls to apologize to Britney Spears in the wake of a new documentary on the pop star’s rise to fame and treatment by fellow celebrities, media outlets and more.
The New York Times’s documentary “Framing Britney Spears” debuted on Hulu and FX last week.
It has brought new attention to how the media reported on Spears at the time, with many viewers and critics saying Spears was treated unfairly and in a sexist way.
Timberlake was in a relationship with Spears for three years before the couple broke up in 2002, when he was 21 years old and she was 20.
Timberlake has come under criticism for using the relationship and breakup to advance his career.
The documentary points to several moves from the musician during the early 2000s, including the 2003 music video for his song "Cry Me a River," which cast a Spears lookalike and portrayed Timberlake as the wronged one in the couple.
The documentary also includes several examples of Timberlake being portrayed positively for having had sex with Spears, who at the same time saw her own behavior portrayed in a negative way.
The documentary shows Timberlake on a magazine cover with a subtitle reading "Hey ... at least he got into Britney's pants."
It also includes a graphic radio appearance after Timberlake's break-up with Spears. He was asked “Did you f--- Britney Spears?”
He is heard laughing and responding “Okay, I did it.”
Timberlake in the past two decades-plus has become one of the biggest stars in the country, crossing from music into film. Spears following the breakup released hit albums including "Blackout," "Circus" and more.
Following the release of the documentary, social media users quickly called on Timberlake to apologize for his treatment of Spears following their relationship.
still waiting for justin timberlake to publicly apologize to britney spears— gh (@GabbieHanna) February 7, 2021
Oh yeah if you already don't like Justin Timberlake, you are going to REALLY not like him if you watch this documentary.— Morgan Jerkins (@MorganJerkins) February 7, 2021
I'll give it to him, he makes great music. Unfortunately, I don't think I can apply that same adjective towards his character.
what is joe biden and kamala harris’ plans to finally make justin timberlake pay for his crimes against janet jackson and britney spears— brie. (@briebxrries) February 7, 2021
The New York Times documentary additionally takes aim at media coverage of Spears at the time, arguing Timberlake was cast in a positive way while Spears was made into a villain.
ABC journalist Diane Sawyer comes under some criticism for telling Spears in a 2003 interview that she had “disappointed a lot of mothers in this country."
Following the release of the documentary, several celebrities have come to Spears’s defense, including Tamron Hall, Kacey Musgraves, Andy Cohen and others.
It also documents the conservatorship under which her father, Jamie Spears, controls a slate of the singer’s business and financial decisions.